Image caption: Students hold a rally in protest against the location in June to show their angst
How ambition, financial inducements fuel relocation of 33yr old agric faculty from LAUTECH
Ordinarily, it is inconceivable a 33 year-old thriving faculty will be shredded from its entrenched abode, the permanent site, a faculty as old as the university itself. But unfortunately, that is the fate staring in the face the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Oyo state.
“No matter the political gain, sacrificing a 33 year-old investment on the altar of parochialism,” an analyst, Adeleke John, notes, while reacting to the matter in a chat with ogbomosoinsightonline.com.
“Contemplating that and going ahead to execute it could only imply unscrupulousness because the losses that will be incurred will certainly outweigh whatever gains it holds. Consider the facilities built over the years that will be abandoned and left to waste, the thirty three-year investments that will go up in flames, the structures, the partnerships that will be severed, the farms, machineries, the laboratories and so on that will be put into disuse,” Comrade Adeleke John added.
But when ambition, an inordinate one for that matter, whelms some individuals, advantageously positioned, they jettison sanity, justice and fairness because the driving force becomes the realization of the unscrupulous ambition.
Investigations have revealed that Oyo state governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, who is the visitor to LAUTECH was moved by good intention to site an institution of higher learning in the Oke-Ogun zone of the state.
To fulfill the promise His Excellency built a modest complex to house the institution at Iseyin, to be affiliated to LAUTECH, specifically to the faculty of agriculture.
“What was envisaged was starting new programmes at the satellite campus such as renewable natural resources (after which the new college is originally named) and other agriculturally-inclined courses not being run at the main campus. Or perhaps an institute of agriculture like the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) has at Ibadan i.e. Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T),” Adeleke further reasoned.
“There are several other institutes at Ibadan such as Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and so on. What is wrong in replicating similar thing in Iseyin instead of severing a viable faculty that has come of age from the permanent site. It beats imagination.”
It was further learnt that at the time the idea was first mooted, the Oyo state Ministry of Education, Science and Technology deliberated on it and came up with a position paper recommending something similar to the above – an institute of agriculture or new programmes. “That is what was recommended,” somebody in the know informed.
However, some persons, findings revealed, hijacked the good intention of the governor and started packaging it to suit their goal, to goad them towards their ambition.
“The affiliate campus is named ‘College of Agricultural Sciences and Renewable Natural Resources,’ that is to tell you the original plan was not to relocate the faculty of agricultural sciences at LAUTECH but to establish something to complement it,” a source stated.
But fifth columnists snatched the initiative, they began to dole out and receive money towards thwarting the original, harmless plan; promises were also made to facilitate the emergence of the arrowhead (name withheld) as vice chancellor if the relocation materializes. Financial inducements played significant part, another professor in line, also coveting the position of vice chancellor, is as well playing along just to be perceived as “a good tool to the power brokers behind the sinister move.
“There is also the suspicion that the Commissioner for Education in the state an Oke-Ogun man from Kisi is in cahoots with them and may be working to favour his zone and so the directives to issue the letters forcing the movement.”
The major protagonists, the prime movers of the “Operation populate College of Agricultural Sciences and Renewable Natural Resources Iseyin with stalelites from LAUTECH Faculty of Agricultural Sciences,’ now, are said to see this as their last chance to be made vice chancellors of LAUTECH, both currently holding important posts in the institution.
“The prizes for the success of the relocation include huge financial rewards, influence and position of vice chancellorship of the institution. That is why desperation, manipulation and manouvering characterize the process. These people are just railroading everybody giving orders for letters to be issued, ignoring wise counsels, refusing to listen to contrary opinions and suggestions in a round-table dialogue,” another source said.
The source continues, “If you go to the Iseyin complex, the office accommodation is inadequate, classrooms are few, no laboratories, no experimental or research farms, not to talk of accommodation for staff and students. They suggest lecturers should shuttle between Ogbomoso and Iseyin on daily basis, that will be spending some N8,000 daily on transport from their meagre salaries, aside risks involved in travelling on Nigerian roads.
“What of the disruptions this will cause to family settings? Students too will be shortchanged – the consequent economic hardships and lack of research facilities at Iseyin, and that is why they (students) have been crying and have become the most vociferous. No matter how you look at it, the relocation is ill-advised. It’s a backward step.”
A source close to the governor meanwhile affirms the notion that “it is probably not with the knowledge of the governor that the establishment of the Iseyin campus is panning out this way, some people are just being over smart, seizing the opportunity to further their own interest. What His Excellency knows is get an institution established in Iseyin under LAUTECH, how that is executed should have been designed by the governing council in line with the recommendation of the vice chancellor-led management, but some people hijacked it and because they are not challenged the governor must have thought it is the best thing.
“Those who are supposed to talk have refrained from making pronouncements even though many see the impropriety of the unfolding development but they feel speaking out will be misconstrued as opposing the governor, many of them seeking government’s favour in personal endeavours.”
That is the calamity befalling the best state university in Nigeria.